BATTALION BREAKDOWN: Brandon Dubinsky
Veteran center looking to rebound after turbulent season filled with challenges.by Brian Hedger @JacketsInsider / BlueJackets.com
Battalion Breakdown is a closer look at the Blue Jackets' past season from a numerical standpoint, starting with the highest jersey number and counting down to the lowest. Today, BlueJackets.com examines Brandon Dubinsky's season and how it impacted Columbus in the 2017-18 campaign.
Birthdate: April 29, 1986
Height/Weight: 6-2, 205
In short, it was the toughest season of Brandon Dubinsky's career.
After hitting multiple speedbumps from start to finish, the Jackets' veteran went into this offseason vowing to make a big rebound in the season ahead.
He got off to a slow start, had the alternate captain's 'A' taken off his jersey by coach John Tortorella, sustained a fractured eye socket during a fight in December and then struggled to make an impact after returning from the extended time off to heal.
Dubinsky had 12 points (three goals, nine assists) in 31 games prior to the injury, which occurred in a fight with Edmonton Oilers forward Zack Kassian late in the third period of the Jackets' 7-2 loss Dec. 12 to the Edmonton Oilers at Nationwide Arena.
He finished with just four more points after returning to the ice and bounced between the third and fourth lines. Dubinsky also began playing the wing more after Columbus acquired veteran Mark Letestu at the trade deadline in late February.
He played in all six games of the Jackets' first-round playoff series against the Washington Capitals but didn't get on the scoresheet and logged just 12:23 per game - skating on the fourth line.
The bright side is that Dubinsky's acumen in the face-off circle didn't wane and his rate of putting shots on goal (1.44 per game) stayed the same as it was in 2016-17. His goal now, with three years left on his contract, is to restore his game to what it was prior to this past season.
Before he begins that quest, here's a look at Dubinsky's 2017-18 season, by the numbers:
Dubinsky missed 20 games, including 18 with the injury and two more as a healthy scratch after returning from it. His most effective playing style is best described as rugged and irritating, and it has led to many post-whistle skirmishes. Against the Oilers in December, in a game the Jackets lost by five goals, it led to the fight with Kassian that effectively sunk his season. Dubinsky's fractured eye socket kept him out 18 games and he struggled to return to top form.
It was a struggle for Dubinsky to score goals right from the start. He didn't net one until the 14th game of the season and finished with just six goals in 62 games, which was his lowest goal total in any NHL season that he played at least 30 games. His career-low is two goals in 29 games during the lockout-shortened 2012-13 season, his first year in Columbus, but the veteran pivot reached double-digits in goals the next four years - including 17 in 2015-16 and 12 in 2016-17.
Dubinsky finished with 16 points, which was the least he'd tallied since 2006-07, when he had no points for the New York Rangers while playing the first six games of his NHL career. Dubinsky had just four points on three goals and one assist in 31 games after returning from the facial fracture.
One area Dubinsky set a career-high in was the amount of time he spent in the Blue Jackets' defensive zone. He made the highest percentage defensive-zone starts of his NHL career, starting in that end of the ice 63.3 percent of the time during even strength.
Another statistic that didn't tail off was Dubinsky's rate of putting shots on goal. He finished with 89 shots in 62 games, which was a rate of 1.44 per game. That's the exact same rate he finished with in 2016-17, when he had 115 shots in 80 games.
Dubinsky spent considerably less time in the penalty box than he did in 2016-17, when he averaged 1.14 penalty minutes (PIM) per game with 91 penalty minutes in 80 games. Largely because of his injury, he finished the season with 33 PIM in 62 games. That worked out to a little more than 30 seconds per game and was the least amount of time he'd spent in the penalty box during a full NHL season.